Distributed public domain databases (DPDD) of biological information on Internet:
An Introduction of a Color Image Database for Japanese Ants

3. Distributed public-domain databases

Of the available databases, the genetic databases handle much information. For this reason, the data for these databases is collected by specialist organizations. The data collected by these organizations is supplied over the network to users [6]. In this case, the data server is completely independent of its clients. It is however difficult for these organizations to make databases covering all of the diverse and abundant information related to life science. To solve this problem, a new type of database has evolved in recent years. In this type of database, researchers themselves control the server and disseminate their own data on the network. Here, the database users are the same time the database controllers and data suppliers. For this means of communication between researchers, multiple host computers are linked together to form a scattered server database. This is the distributed public-domain database (DPDD) [7]
Many DPDD now use Gopher servers. Since it is easy to link Gopher servers to other servers, chains of Gophers linked to each other can be used to create a DPDD as described above.
In recent years, World Wide Web (WWW) servers, which are easier to use and have higher levels of function than their forerunners, have been increasing rapidly. Some DPDD utilize a WWW format. For example, the University of Arizona WWW server named "The Tree of Life" project (http://phylogeny.arizona.edu/tree/phylogeny.html) has produced a framework of a genealogical tree for all living organisms. It supplies the biological information, produced by this university, classified according to this genealogical tree. At the same time, this server invites other biology-related WWW servers to link into corresponding regions of the tree (Fig. 1). This is a large-scale attempt to integrate the information on all biology-related WWW servers into the tree constructed on by the University of Arizona server.

Broadcast or perish
The greatest characteristic of the Internet is that all 3 million computers connected to the Internet can have the function of dispatching information as a host. Therefore, even a very small computer can originate and dispatch information to the worldwide host computers and to computer users, if it is set up as a server. Unlike the conventional mass media which dispatches information in a one-way stream, from a single centralized source to many targets, the Internet is a new type of medium, which allows large numbers of computers to communicate with each other. The DPDD makes best use of the networking function of this new medium.
If the DPDD and its analogs spread, the conventional methods of science will be changed drastically, because the spread of the DPDD and its analogs means that the researchers themselves begin to assume the broadcasting role which has conventionally been controlled by publishers of scientific information. As a result, the conventional systems for the disclosure and sharing of research information will also be inevitably changed in a drastic way. In the past, the phrase "publish or perish" was often used by researchers. This phrase reflects the severe competition among researchers. In the future, the age will come, when this phrase will be replaced with a new phrase, "broadcast or perish", which means that researchers absolutely must disseminate their information, e.g., their papers, on the networks, or they will be out of the business of conducting research [8].
As a result, one urgent need is to establish databases of information related to biological taxonomy. This necessity will be illustrated below, using a color image database for Japanese ants as our example. We are now preparing this database.

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Japanese Journal of Computer Science Vol.2, No.1: pp.5-13
Copyright 1995 by The Myrmecological Society of Japan (for English version) and The Japanese Association of Computer Science (for Japanese version),